When it comes to premium buffets in the metro, nothing satisfies quite like Spiral in Sofitel. With 21 ateliers ranging from Chinese Wok, to French Stove, to Sushi Sashimi, and even to Churrasco – this hotel buffet offers a diverse and ever-changing dining experience that has given it recognition as a prime choice for buffet-goers the nation over. So, it comes to no surprise that this multi-cuisine restaurant is always striving to further its culinary experience for guests. Throughout the year, Sofitel has brought in new talents to enhance their cuisine ateliers in Spiral. Starting with the recruitment of Chef Eddie Chua for their Chinese atelier back in July, this time around, they’ve brought in Chef SK Afsar Rahaman to helm their Indian atelier – bringing in authentic flavor to their Indian fare as well as a modern fusion touch.
Hailing from Kolkata, India, Chef Afsar has worked in multiple resorts and hotels across India, as well as bringing his culinary talents to the Koala International Fine Dining Restaurant in Saudi Arabia. This being his first stint in the Philippines, Chef Afsar remarks, “I am excited to join the Sofitel team as we transport guests to the culinary landscape of India that are sure to excite the adventurous Filipino [palate].”
With over 15 years of culinary experience, Chef Rahaman was personally scouted by Sofitel General Manager, Puneet Dhawan, who wanted to find the right chef to not only enhance their Indian atelier but also reintroduce the cuisine to the Filipino tongue. Of Indian descent himself, Dhawan was particular in choosing a chef in leading the Indian atelier as well as for custom Indian menus for events. Chef Afsar was chosen for his diverse knowledge of Indian cuisine paired with his signature take on classic recipes that elevate the well-known cuisine for not only traditionalist patrons but for adventurous ones as well.
At a chef’s table event held in Spiral last October 16, guests were invited to taste Spiral’s new Indian fare by Chef Afsar. The meal starts off strong with appetizers that already pack a good kick with the spice. A platter of four Indian hors d’oeuvres, each uniquely made and highlights a particular ingredient: Lamb Galouti Kebab, Fish Paturi, Daal Chawal Tikki (Lentil & Rice Patties), and Prawn Achari. A platter of varying flavors and textures, this starter showcases Chef Rahaman’s skill in controlling spices as the platter was filled with it but never overwhelming.
Before the main dishes were brought out, a cooling scoop of calamansi sorbet was served to cleanse the palate and prepare the tongue for the deep and rich flavors ahead. After the cold break, the main dishes were all served simultaneously – banquet-style. A colorful roster of dishes was presented. There’s the deep hue of the sauces from the Murgh Musallam and Nalli Nihari, the bright colors of the Paneer Gulnar and Badal Jaam, and the toasted brown of the assorted bread basket – an Indian banquet worthy of any celebration.
As for their flavor, the dishes were a layered blend of spices. The Murgh Musallam, charcoal roasted chicken cooked in rich onion and cashew gravy, had a warm and nutty taste that goes well with the chicken thighs and will have you scooping the sauce with their bread for the entire meal. The Paneer Gulnar, mint-flavored cottage cheese in spinach gravy, was a creamy and flavorful dish that highlights the subtle taste of the cheese with the rich punch of the green gravy. There’s dimension in each dish, every mouthful is a melody of spices that blend together, giving each dish its own spice identity without being redundant in taste.
For dessert, we were served the South Asian classic, Jalebi, a crunchy and sweet dish oozing with sugar syrup. This sweet treat is made from deep-fried flour batter cooked in a circular shape, almost like a pretzel but not quite there. The syrup drips out in every bite making for a deeply sweet dish that makes it all the more addicting.
By the end of the meal, many of the guests (myself included) were leaning back on their seats and rubbing their bellies. Generous as the dishes were in size, the same is to be said with the flavor. What amazes me is even though most of the dishes were strong in their flavor profiles, they were never overbearing. Each dish came with its own distinct taste that never competed with the others. This comes as a testament to Chef Afsar’s prowess on the cuisine and leaves me with excitement on what other Indian flavors he will bring to Spiral.
Spiral is located at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, 1300 Pasay City. For inquiries and reservations, contact +632 8-573-5555.
Photos from Sofitel.